PREPARE FOR RAMADHAN!
Being alive is not about breathing, but about the heart being alive. Start preparing for this Ramadhan by learning how the morning and evening supplications are treasures from Allah ‘azza wa wall that can awaken your heart!
There’s something you share with the animals, the plants, and everything between the seven heavens and the earth, yet that same thing makes you special. It is the remembrance of Allah ‘azza wa jall: dhikr.
The trees, the mountains, whatever is in the seas praise Him, yet you were given the choice to remember Him or not.
In this week’s central ayah Allah ‘azza wa jall says: Has the time not come for those who have believed that their hearts should become humbly submissive at the remembrance of Allah . . .[Quran, 57:16]
This week we reflect on the importance of a great treasure ready to be uncovered by you: the morning and evening supplications. Do you say them every day before sunrise and before maghrib? If you do, do you understand what they mean? And even more important, is there movement in your heart when you say them?
Adhkaar bil emaan
Dhikr (or zikr) is the Arabic term for the remembrance of Allah ‘azza wa jall and adhkaar (or azkar) is the plural. Allah ‘azza wa jall knows you best and through the live of the Prophet salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam He taught you how to remember Him. The morning and evening adhkaar are specific ayaat and supplications which should be part of your daily routine and you can find them for example in a special dedicated chapter in the pocket book of supplications Hisnul Muslim— “The Fortress of the Muslim.”
You can pick up any dua’ book and read them out, but what does it mean if you don’t feel anything in your heart? Are you “remembering Allah” without truly remembering Him? Adhkaar bil emaan means that you not just say the words, you learn how to understand and live by the supplications you say. Ibnul Qayyim beautifully mentioned in his book the Invocation of God that remembering Allah ‘azza wa jall without your heart present, is like offering an empty gift. It’s time to bring your morning and evening supplications from ritual to spiritual!
Set the habit
Allah ‘azza wa jall gives us a crucial instruction in order to truly feel alive: O you who believe! Remember Allah with much remembrance. [Quran, 33:41] There’s a beautiful habit to strive for: dhikran katheera. Teaching yourself to remember Allah ‘azza wa jall morning and afternoon, throughout the day. This ayah doesn’t speak about just remembering Allah when everything is quiet at night, but to remember Him at the busy start of your day and in the afternoons when you are busy with work. It will help you to keep away from backbiting. It will help you to keep away from feeling anxious all the time. It will help you from getting angry easily and above all it will bring peace to your heart. Now, how do you do this? How can you remember Allah all the time?
It’s about getting in a habit of filling those “unaware moments” with remembering Allah, e.g. when your thoughts are wondering off during the dishes, when you are driving back home, when you are sitting on the sofa, say alhamdulillah or subhanallah or Allahu akbar. Randomly. Even when you are with people, your heart can be remembering Him. Keep reminding yourself to think about Allah during the day. Write on your phone’s or tablet’s desktop, “Remember Allah.” Hang up post-it notes in your house with dhikr written on them.
The Prophet salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: The Lord, Blessed and Most High is He, has said: Whoever is too busy with the Qur’an and remembering Me than asking Me, then I shall give him more than what I give to those who ask. [At Tirmidhee] This doesn’t mean you should not make dua’ and ask things for yourselves and others, it means that when you are so busy reading and studying to understand the Quran and praising and glorifying Him, this is the best dhikr and Allah ‘azza wa jall will give you even more than you could ask for!
The importance of the morning and evening supplications
You might think, why should I say these specific supplications and ayaat at these specific timings?* The first thing most people think about as being the reason behind saying your morning and evening adhkaar is protection. Protection from Shaytaan, enemies, jinns, the evil within yourselves, temptations, etc. However, the main and most beautiful reason behind this daily adhkaar is to make your bond with Allah ‘azza wa jall closer and your attachment to Him stronger. And then protection. Each of these supplications are for you to truly contemplate your relationship with Allah. Every morning again, every evening again allah ‘azza wa jall wants you to attach your heart to Him, because He knows you are being pulled away from Him all day long.
1. Say them each day, morning and evening.
If you miss the timings, e.g. you didn’t say your morning adhkaar before sunrise, still say them and don’t let Shaytan make you think that’s it’s of no use. The effect might be less than said in it’s right timing, but it is still dhikr and you will get rewarded for it immensely!
2. Start understanding them word for word.
Get a pocket dua book with the Arabic and translation in your language and write above each Arabic word and what it means.
3. Start deriving lessons from them.
With each sentence, think: what does this mean to me? For example when you say: radeetu billaahi Rabb, wa bil islaami deen, wa bi Muhammadin salallahu alayhi wa sallam nabiyyan ( I am pleased with Allah as my Lord and with Islam as my deen and with Muhammad as Prophet) really feel satisfied and happy with your deen. Think of all the times you have complained about things you don’t like. Realize how blessed you are to be a Muslim. Say to yourself with conviction: I am so happy with Allah as my Lord, I am so happy I have Islam, I’m so satisfied I have an example to follow (The Prophet)!
This is all a learning curve and there will be times you can’t manage to say them all, or you still say them as a routine without feeling “present” with your heart, the key is to not give up, to keep reminding yourself and to beg Allah ‘azza wa jall like the Prophet did after each salah:
Allahumma a’innee alaa shukrika, wa dhikrika wa husni ‘ibaadatik: O Allah, help me to thank You, remember You and worship You in the best way!
Draw a simple table with in one column labelled “morning” and one column “evening” and put next to them the seven days of the week. Every day you say your morning adhkaar, tick the box, and do likewise with the evening adhkaar. This way you will hate to see gaps in the boxes!
*The morning adhkaar is according to the strongest opinion to be said in the period from after the fajr prayer until before the sun rises (shurooq). The evening adhkaar begins after the ‘asr prayer until the maghrib prayer. And Allah knows best.
Praying you will benefit,